Muhammad Ali was a paragon and a paradox, a brilliant fighter in the boxing ring and a committed man to Black people’s causes outside it. America had not experienced anyone like him — a man of conviction who understood that his international platform was an entrée to spread the word for equal rights for all.
In the process of becoming the youngest boxer, at 22, to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion, in a stunning upset of the perceived indomitable Sonny Liston, it was then that he was taken seriously as a man, and his voice of Black power, equal opportunity and fairness resounded. He at once changed boxing and the world, making him truly The Greatest. Here’s how: